Annie Leibovitz (b. 1949)
Annie Leibovitz (B. 1949)

The Rolling Stones

Annie Leibovitz (B. 1949)
The Rolling Stones
signed, dedicated and dated 'For Earl 1980 Annie Leibovitz' (on the reverse of each sheet)
gelatin silver print, in four parts
each image: 12 3/4 x 12 3/8 in. (32.4 x 31.4 cm.)
each sheet: 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm.)
(4)Executed in 1980. Please note these works are publicity photographs gifted to the present owner.
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Sale room notice
Please note these works are publicity photographs gifted by the artist to the present owner.

Lot Essay

Annie Leibovitz developed a close and enduring relationship with the Rolling Stones when she worked as a concert-tour photographer for their Tour of the Americas in 1975. Later she confessed: “…I found that my favorite pictures were early ones taken when I was doing reportage. The pictures from the 1975 Rolling Stones tour were particularly strong, probably because I spent so much time travelling with the band” (A. Leibovitz, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographers Life, 1990-2005, London, 2006, p. 9).

These photographs of the band capture a particular moment in Leibovitz’s career when she was transitioning from a rock‘n‘roll photographer to a studio portraitist. In 1983 Leibovitz quit her job as a chief photographer of bold and rebellious Rolling Stone magazine and joined Vanity Fair, a glamorous chronicle of popular culture and fashion. Leibovitz, however, remained committed to discovering the models’ true self through photography. “In the beginning of my work, I think I was considered more journalistic or something if it was more shocking. But I find that if I let people be themselves, it’s even more shocking in a way. In fact, that’s really what I’m interested in right now. Trying to take a real straight picture” (A. Leibovitz, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, New York, 1983, n.p.).

When Leibovitz took these photographs in 1980, the Rolling Stones were at the peak of their commercial success with Earl McGrath at the helm as the president of Rolling Stones Records. In the photograph of the group, dressed head to toe in white is Mick Jagger, who demands the attention of the camera with his defiant expression, while casually leaning against his band mates. Keith Richards echoes the posture of Jagger and engages in a nonchalant conversation with Ron Wood. On the other side, Charlie Watts has his hands clasped in front and Bill Wyman looks directly to the photographer, giving off a nervous, boyish vibe. In these black and white photographs, Leibovitz captures a seemingly spontaneous moment within a studio that nonetheless reveals the personalities and dynamics of the band.

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